There were a few bright spots for the travel industry this week as a number of countries announced their intention to welcome international travellers for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.
Colombia confirmed it will launch its first commercial flight since the beginning of the pandemic on 19th September, with US carrier Spirit Airlines operating trips between Cartagena and Miami. Meanwhile, Oman’s Supreme Committee declared it would reopen to international flights, with local authority Oman Airports stating it would resume air traffic for foreign visitors from 1st October.
In Asia, Singapore saw its first 14 visitors from New Zealand and Brunei since reopening its borders to both countries. The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore added that it had approved travel for a further 59 travellers from Brunei and 77 from New Zealand as of 8th September. At the same time, Singapore Airlines Group published its flying schedule for November, with the company aiming to reach around 11% of pre-COVID 19 traffic levels – up from 8% in October.
India is also preparing for the return of international travel with numerous health and safety upgrades to its airports to protect passengers against COVID-19. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport has introduced new sanitisation and disinfection processes and strict screening measures, as well as new technology to promote a contactless experience throughout its terminals and boarding areas. The airport this week became the first in India to be approved under the Airport Council International’s (ACI) Airport Health Accreditation programme.
A host of travel operators have also been demonstrating the latest innovations designed to create fresh sales opportunities during the coronavirus shutdown. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is piloting a contactless service that allows passengers to pre-order and collect food and drink after security control using QR codes. Malaysia Airports has also developed a new ecommerce platform, shopMYairports, to support its duty free retailers. The platform will enable the public to order duty free and travel-exclusive goods and have them delivered directly to their front door.
And speaking of innovation, Thai Airways has come up with a novel solution for travellers who are craving the airline experience but are currently unable to fly. Business Traveller reports that the airline has opened a restaurant at its headquarters in Bangkok that replicates the look of its air cabins, right down to the plane seats featuring its iconic pink, orange and purple colour scheme. Diners will be served by staff in full crew uniform and will be able to order authentic plane food. If that wasn’t enough, each customer will also get their own boarding pass as a souvenir to commemorate their visit.